Fellowship is stronger than lockdowns

“Together on [Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday], we feel connected to our brothers and sisters all over the world,” says Jannie Nijwening, pastor at Doopsgezind Gemeente Zaanstreek in the Netherlands. 

Around the globe, congregations in the Mennonite World Conference family celebrated Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday, “an opportunity to remind our communities of faith that we are all part of one body made up of many tribes, languages and nations (Revelation 7:9).”  

Congregations tagged themselves on a Google map on the MWC website, leaving pins from GKMI Bukit Hermon Depot in Indonesia to Eglise évangélique Mennonite du Birkenhof in France to Igreja Evangélica Irmãos Menonitas Renovada in Brazil to Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Central de San Pedro Sula in Honduras to Boulder Mennonite in Colorado, USA.  

In their recorded service, the Zaanstreek Dutch Mennonite congregation included greetings from Columbus Mennonite Church in Ohio, USA; Iglesia Mennonita Teusaquillo in Bogota, Colombia; and from three Colombia Mennonites who are currently studying peace in Amsterdam.  

women eating
Rajnandgaon Mennonite Church shared a meal together after their Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday service. 
Photo: Preshit Rao 

“We feel connected and we wish you all the best success in all the challenges that society is posing to you: tensions, violence, separation between peoples. We hope you can contribute to more fellowship between peoples like we also hope we can do in our country,” says Jannie Nijwening as she addresses the Colombian church.   

In turn, the congregation in Bogota included greetings from the Dutch congregation, along with greetings from missionaries in Casa Grande children’s home in Benin and a song from Iglesia  Menonita de Quito, Ecuador.  

In India, local health orders permitted some in-person gathering. “We had a blessed time of worship and prayer together with our brothers and sisters around the world,” says Vikal Rao of Rajnandgaon Mennonite Church.  

“We started this Sunday worship by introducing Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday,” says pastor Ashish Milap of Bethel Mennonite Church, Balodgahan. They used the worship resource materials in their service in addition teaching about Anabaptist beginnings, including persecution for faith, separation of church and government and practicing nonviolence.  

“We were blessed,” says Ashish Milap. “We thank MWC to lead us in wonderful and blessed celebration of Anabaptist World fellowship Sunday. This has surely united and encouraged us to grow in a global manner.” 

Hamilton Mennonite Church in Ontario, Canada, also took full advantage of the worship resources provided, using videos from PA 2015 for congregational singing, Scripture reading in Hindi and English, sharing prayers and testimonies from the worship package, and basing the sermon on the suggested packages.  

In California, Willow Avenue Mennonite Church, Reedley First Mennonite and Mennonite Community Church held a joint service hosting MWC general secretary César García as their speaker.  

Mennonitengemeinde zu Hamburg und Altona in Germany had planned to hold ordination on Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday, “...in part, because we wanted to embody the way preachers are called to serve the whole church, not just the local congregation.” Unfortunately, lockdown conditions moved the service online, delaying the ordination for an in-person event. 

However, the virtual celebration of Communion was “weirdly powerful,” says Marius van Hoogstraten. “There is something stronger than lockdowns keeping the church together!” 

Whenever congregations celebrate Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday, “we are in a continuous process of seeking unity and of sharing love and hospitality,” says Jannie Nijwening. 

Click here to learn how to invite an MWC speaker to share at your church.

  Check out Anabaptist World Fellowship Sunday Materials & Resources